01/22/13

My First Ham Contest

If you read previous posts, you know this past weekend I took part in my first ham radio contest. It was the North American QSO Party. I was also trying to take part in the ARRL VHF January contest but that was fruitless, completely. Saturday afternoon about 12pm CST I started my setup. I gathered up my antenna supplies, a 20 meter home made wire dipole with a DX Engineering Alpha Delta Antenna kit. Basically it’s just a feed point and two insulators. This was going up into two tree’s outside the radio room’s window, so I also used rubber bands to lash the various pieces in place. Then I just opened the windows a smudge and feed in the coaxial feed line it’s self. This all worked really well!

By this point it’s about 12:40pm on Saturday, 20 minutes to go. I now grab my laptop put it on the desk, turn on the PS and finally radio. I’m using the NAQP program by N3FJP as my logging software. It’s simple, easy-to-use and this program is specifically made for this contest. N3FJP has a whole suite of programs for popular various contests. I had tried to get my radio to interface with Ham Radio Deluxe, but it just wasn’t having it. O well.

It’s now 15 till start time. Everything is on and charged. I tune up the antenna just to tighten everything up. Since I had extra time I tuned around and called CQ for about 13 minutes and 6 contacts so I was feeling pretty good about it. First hour 20 contacts right out of the gate. All over the north, north east, south and south eastern side of the USA and I think one Canada contact. So I take a lunch break and sit with the wife for a few and then get back at it. 26 more contacts in about an hour and a half.

This is awesome, I mean I don’t have a pile up of people looking to talk to me when I’m working CQ, but every single station that I come to that’s calling CQ I get through to. Including a pile up or two that I make it through. Remember home made antenna in a tree that’s not near as high as it should have been. I’m having a ball!

At this point I’m 4 hours into the contest, I’ve stepped away to do something for the wife. I come back and turn the radio back on and my for whatever reason my power supply takes a dump. The fan inside revs up to full speed, as does the voltage read out. It maxs! As quickly as I can I turn it off and unplug my radio from it. I put a voltmeter on the PS and 31.6 volts. AGH! So pissed.

Power Supply is a MFJ-4245MV

My nice, beautiful, expensive, new Yaesu FT-950 was over volted! Then I’m taking another reading and the POS power supply shocks me. I’m touch the metal chassis of the case and the negative terminal. I then, after my arm stops hurting, take a measurement on the chassis. 186.9 volts. At this point I go, pull out my antenna and bring it in. My contest day is over. Tomorrow, tuesday 23rd, I’m calling MFJ.

I’ve always heard the MFJ isn’t the best but I really was trying to buy from an American company. Astron

ft-950 338422

 

01/17/13

Radioactive Once Again, Contest Time

I’m radioactive or soon will be this weekend with 2 contests. ARRL VHF and North American QSO Party. As you saw in my previous post my QTH has changed. I am now an Indianapolis, Indiana resident. I’ve got my power supply plugged in and my FT-950 hooked up to it. Which the timing is prefect cause I’m planning my first ever, on my own, ham radio contests this weekend. ARRL VHF January contest and the North American QSO party.

ARRL VHF Contest

Rules
This is a contest hosted by the ARRL and runs through the entire weekend. Begins 1900 UTC Saturday, ends 0359 UTC Monday (January 19-21, 2013). Basically in easy to read script it runs, 2pm Saturday January the 19th 2013 through 10:59pm January 21st 2013. I hope, UTC is confusing to me. I’m pretty sure being in Eastern Time Zone I subtract 12 + (-5) from UTC to get local time. If not and you read this, sorry!

Anyways that’s my first contest. Contest number two is the…

 

North American QSO Party

Rules

Technically NAQP is a 3 weekend event spread throughout the year. But luckily for me, some who doesn’t do CW or digital, the SSB or Single Side Band portion is this particular weekend. This contest runs from 1800 UTC January 19 to 0559 through UTC January 20, 2013 (third full weekend in January). Meaning 1pm January 19th, 2013 through 12:59am January 20th, 2013. Once again word to the wise, do your own UTC calcs.